DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) is a male hormone (androgen) that is made in the adrenal glands. The body turns it into testosterone. A test for DHEA-S checks the level of this hormone in the blood.
Testosterone affects sexual features and development. In men, it is made in large amounts by the testicles. In both men and women, testosterone is made in small amounts by the adrenal glands. In women, small amounts are made by the ovaries.
This test is usually done along with tests of other hormone levels. DHEA-S might be tested to:
If your doctor tells you to fast before your test, do not eat or drink anything except water for 9 to 12 hours before you have your blood drawn. In most cases, you are allowed to take your medicines with water the morning of the test.
The test is usually done in the morning, because that is when the amount of DHEA-S is at its highest.
Women may be asked to take the test at a certain time in their menstrual cycle.
The health professional taking a sample of blood will:
The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight. You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch.
There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from a vein.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Women before menopause
60 to 340 mcg/dL or 820 to 3,380 ng/mL
Women after menopause
Less than 130 mcg/dL or 100 to 610 ng/mL
Pregnant women (full term)
230 to 1,170 ng/mL
130 to 550 mcg/dL or 270 to 1,400 ng/dL
Male before puberty
2,000 to 3,350 ng/mL
100 to 600 ng/dL
1,670 to 3,640 ng/mL
Levels of DHEA may be high because you have:
Levels of DHEA may be low because:
You may not be able to have the test, or the results may not be helpful, if you:
Levels of DHEA-S are normally high in newborns. They are lower in childhood and then rise again in puberty.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.
July 29, 2013
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
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